George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Livingston, 11 April 1778

To William Livingston

Head Quarters Valley Forge 11th Apl 1778

Dear Sir

I have the honor of yours of the 4th instant. If Capt. Arnold makes so many difficulties before he comes into the feild he will perhaps find more after he has entered, and I therefore would rather have him drop the Scheme than take it up unwillingly.1

Mr Boudinot is at present at Newtown with the Commissioners, but I will send him that part of your letter which respects the illicit trade carried on under the sanction of his flag Boats with provision and desire him to remedy the evil in the manner you point out. I will also desire him to remove the prisoners of War from your Jails.2

A Resolve of Congress passed the 4th instant empowering me to call for 5000 Militia from the States of Pennsylvania Maryland and Jersey.3 I would not wish to distress the States but when there is an absolute necessity, but from the present poor prospect of an early reinforcement to the continental Army, I fear I shall be obliged to make the demand. If I do, I am confident that your State, notwithstanding their former exertions, will contribute their quota. I am ca.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For information about the attempt to recruit for temporary service the Morris County light horse led by Capt. Jacob Arnold, see GW to Livingston, 4 Feb. and 14 Mar., and Livingston to GW, 2 and 14 March. For the surviving extract of Livingston’s letter to GW of 4 April, see note 2.

2The extract of Livingston’s letter to GW of 4 April, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, reads: “There is an almost universal clamor against the flag Boats (as they are called) which pass from this State to New York with provision for our prisoners. Such kind of Clamors I know are frequently ill founded and therefore not to be implicitly regarded. On the other hand the popular jealousy (which originates from a laudable principle) is not too bluntly to be despised. It is said that these Boats carry private ventures, often put into bye places to take in additional Cargoes to barter with the Enemy, are navigated by the most worthless fellows and bring back a variety of merchandize for the emolument of individuals. To prevent any such abuses (if any such there be) or to allay the jealousy of the populace if these are not, it would perhaps be proper for Mr Boudinot (who if I understood him not apprehends no ill consequence from trading with the Enemy) to employ an Agent in Brunswic to sign an invoice of what the Boats are really intended to carry, with a permit of what they are suffered to bring back and so to leave all smuggled Articles to the mercy of our Militia. In which case I believe I should soon cure them of all smugling.

“Unless the Commy of prisoners appoints some persons to guard those that may be sent into this State, he may depend upon it, they will escape[.] Our Militia will not guard them and our Jails are n⟨ot⟩ sufficient without them” (PHi, Boudinot Papers).

3For this resolution, see Henry Laurens to GW, 4 April, n.1.

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